PETERSON SPACE FORCE BASE, Colo. –
U.S. Space Command command senior enlisted leader, U.S. Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sgt. Scott Stalker, participated in a virtual discussion with students from the Oxford University Aeronautical Society (“AerOx”) Nov. 29, 2022.
The academic society, comprised of Oxford University students and young aeronautical professionals, and the United States’ combatant command responsible for everything 100km above mean-sea level have more in common than you might expect.
For decades, activities in the space domain were relatively unencumbered as they were predominantly scientific or civil in nature. As space-based capabilities and space-powered technologies continue to permeate more corners of society, however, the space domain has become increasingly crowded. And with the presence of both commercial and defense-sector assets, so evolves an increasing threat from competitor and adversarial nations.
The next generation of space leaders who seek to innovate and discover, however; require the ability to freely access a space domain that’s sustainable and safe.
“U.S. Space Command has direct conversations with other countries, other commercial partners, and academic organizations to see where we can collaborate better – both to educate and inform, and to solve some of the challenges we face in space,” said Stalker.
One ongoing challenge is the congestion in space, particularly in Low-Earth Orbit. In 2021, Russia conducted a test of their direct-ascent anti-satellite missile that struck an inactive Russian satellite, creating a debris field of at least 1,500 trackable pieces of debris. In addition to threatening satellites, following the test, crew members aboard the International Space Station were forced to take shelter as the ISS orbit intersected with the debris.
The dynamic nature of space requires U.S. Space Command to constantly look for ways to modernize and innovate. It does so by not only partnering with other allied nations, but with commercial and academic organizations – those within industry who are delivering cutting-edge technologies.
Encouraging the next generation to pursue their interest in space and STEM-related fields is vital to preserving space for decades to come.
“Inspiration can come from many means,” Stalker explained. “Economic, cyber, intelligence, an interest in national security…we must coach and mentor along the way. It’s going to take more and more effort from all. It’s going to take a true passion.”
Just as the United States maintains a network of like-minded Allies and partners, the growing number of partnerships with non-defense-sector space experts provides Space Command with its edge, Stalker concluded.
“Tracking orbital objects and delivering space-based capabilities to warfighters requires a team that can meet the challenges of today and remain forward thinking and innovative.”